No, it’s not a show that spans for 91 episodes, a Baccano’s second coming, or in fact anything like that at all. On paper, 91 Days is a revenge story, a show about a guy named Avilio Bruno (real name: Angelo Lagusa) who seeks vengeance against the Vanetti Family. Why? It’s because they ruined his life many years ago when he was a child. His family was murdered (or more precisely, double crossed) by the mafia. This all happened during the Prohibition Era and it’s hard to imagine at the time what Avilio was going through. Simply put, 91 Days strives to prove itself as a successful crime-drama thriller; one that hopes to make it memorable as for you as it can for itself.
As an original series, 91 Days isn’t being held back by any adaptation hindrances or an established fan base. However, the show is hardly anything original either. Picture this. It’s the Prohibition Era and mafia, gangs, and mobs rule the street. Liquor is like gold while the police force is anything but useful. Organized crime is almost everywhere you see and so common that it’s practically accepted. At the top of the food chain are the mafia organizations that controls the system. The Vanetti Family is one such mafia that emerged as a powerful group led by a man named Don Vincento. He also got a son named Nero who he hopes will protect his family’s treasure. Avilio is able to get involved in this family’s affairs as a subordinate while others remain oblivious to the fact that he wants to destroy them from within. Sounds quite appealing right? It’s almost sounds like a revamp of a gangster story from the 80s or something out of a James Bond movie.
Even judging by the promotional poster itself, the show can feel intimidating. You literally got two guys standing on opposite ends of each other while pointing a gun with the intent to kill. They are Nero and Avilio. As a story about crime, revenge, and murder, there’s also a lot that goes beyond that. 91 Days starts off by making its intentions pretty clear. Mafia really are like Gods in their world who plays by their own rules. Unfortunately, Avilio’s family were killed and the laws never delivered justice for him. It’s why he wants revenge. At the same time, Avilio is a clever man. He’s been hiding himself for almost 7 years until the moment he has the chance. On surface, Avilio is someone that is hard to approach. He hides his emotions and not easily befriended. His friendship with Nero is one of the most interesting dynamics in the series as they are very different. Nero is the one with the bright personality and also has full of pride for his family. We learn that Avilio lost his family already so there’s not many people he can turn to besides his childhood friend Corteo. So in his head, we got Avilio who tries his best to carry out vengeance that being transformed from a sweet kid to this avenger. At the same time, Avilio’s intentions aren’t just revenge. He wants to bring pain and suffering to his enemies so death sometimes may not be enough to satisfy. Talk about intense feelings. Living in pain may feel even worse than death itself.
I have to admit, cleverness alone isn’t just what describes Avilio as a character. The people he wants dead are often planned out in his head like a chess game, where he anticipates the moves of his opponents. In this game, Avilio uses tricks until he catches his prey off guard and goes for the kill or make them suffer. It’s like an assassination except Avilio does more than just carry out his mission. He wants the most out of them and even manages to get other people involved in such dangerous affairs when they weren’t to be. Remember, this is a society where trust is an obscure word. People have to rely on themselves and family feuds are pretty evident. The most noticeable ones are between the Vanetti, Orco, and Galassia. In the meantime, the show makes some families look like hypocrites, especially with they celebrate events. In essence, there’s really no sincere character coming from the families as they all seek to make themselves look good. One of the most noticeable characters in the show is Fango, someone that viewers will see as a psychopath. It’s pretty evident that he has murderous tendencies and really doesn’t care much about anyone but himself. The mind games you see he plays with others also makes him a manipulative individual as well. Perhaps Fango is a bit of extreme example but the point is that there’s pretty much no character in the show with a pure heart.
Among all the antiheroes and crime, the story itself is pretty much a dark thriller. It’s obvious already in the first few episodes so expect nothing less throughout the rest of the season. There is actually one breather episode that connects the friendship more between Avilio and Nero. However, most of the season is tainted with bloodshed, murder, and tragedy. Death is quite real and really, no one is safe. There may even be a few plot segments where you’ll feel like experiencing the unexpected. Every episode builds on the overall story and characters more whether they are from extravagant revelations or small pieces by pieces. The show is about revenge but the characters in them are more than just chess pieces in a board game. Sure, each of the have their roles to fulfill but most of the character also has a purpose. In the meantime, the comedy of the series is portrayed more as dark humor. The violence is portrayed as real. The crimes are lawless.
Animation wise, I was initially somewhat worried. The show is adapted by studio Shuka who is only known for their recent work, Durarara!! sequels. From a technical perspective, the show looks decent and portrays the dark thrilling mood quite well. The best parts about the show is the character emotions as we see how they show their feelings – hatred, sorrow, pity, regret. 91 Days portrays character expressions at their best when they are in conflict. The historical background settings of the Prohibition Era also has fine details although not as emphasized as the violence. Expect graphic violence especially during death scenes and murder. It’s a dark story after all.
The soundtrack makes sense in most respects with the eerie atmospheric setting. Even the OP and ED theme songs are haunting with a soft paced beat. Character voice mannerisms in the show is also a positive with Avilio being a believable character with his quest of revenge. However, my biggest impression of the character voice mannerism is Fango. His eccentric speeches, crazy personality, and psychopathic tone reflects exactly how 91 Days’ society can be so unconstitutional. And his voice is pretty damn good at showing that.
91 Days is a show that goes beyond the mafia wars, revenge story, and crime. Every now and then, we get a gangster story of violence. Some of them really is nothing more than pandering fans with fan service. Others really portray how dark humans can be while there’s a society without laws. 91 Days is the type of series that show the darker side of humanity. I must say…that is something to watch out for.